Hindu–Arabic numeral system

most common system for writing numbers

The Hindu–Arabic numeral system (also known as the Indo-Arabic numeral system, Hindu numeral system, Arabic numeral system) is a positional base ten numeral system for representing integers; its extension to non-integers is the decimal numeral system, which is presently the most common numeral system.


  • The importance of the creation of the zero mark can never be exaggerated. This giving to airy nothing, not merely a local habitation and a name, a picture, a symbol but helpful power, is the characteristic of the Hindu race from whence it sprang. It is like coining the Nirvana into dynamos. No single mathematical creation has been more potent for the general on-go of intelligence and power.’
    • G.B. Halsted, On the Foundation and Technique of Arithmetic, p. 20, Chicago, 1912, quoted in History of Hindu Mathematics, B. Datta and A.N. Singh, 1935.
  • The difficulty of understanding why it should have been the Hindus who took this step, why it was not taken by the mathematicians of antiquity, why it should first have been taken by practical man, is only insuperable if we seek for the explanation of intellectual progress in the genius of a few gifted individuals, instead of in the whole social framework of custom thought which circumscribes the greatest individual genius. What happened in India about AD 100 had happened before. May be it is happening now in Soviet Russia…. To accept it (this truth) is to recognise that every culture contains within itself its own doom, unless it pays as much attention to the education of the mass of mankind as to the education of the exceptionally gifted people.’
    • Hogben: ‘Mathematics for the Million’ (London, 1942), p. 285.

See also